Origins and early growth |
Development of local government
BUILDINGS AND FORTIFICATIONS | Economy | Summary/Recap | Information sources
Map of Maldon at the close of the Middle Ages
Maldon bailiffs and chamberlains
Appendix: borough custumal
|Buildings and fortifications|
Mention has already been made of the Moothall which, like All Saints' church, was associated with the marketplace the town centre, if not geographically then in terms of the essence of a town. Another prominent building on one side of the marketplace was the Saracen's Head, a tavern from which, by the 1440s, the borough was receiving 40s. for its annual lease. By 1413 Robert Darcy had acquired, or was renting from the borough, a tenement said to be in the middle of the market. Later in life, however, he acquired a large piece of property facing onto the High Street just outside the marketplace, immediately to the east of the church, and began building a more impressive residence suitable to his status in the town. It is not certain if this was ever completed, before he died, but a tower from it (an addition later in the fifteenth century) still stands and in the late sixteenth century it superseded the medieval Moothall as the seat of borough government.
No walls were ever built around Maldon. The borough was not wealthy enough to afford them, nor strategically important enough to warrant them. We do hear of the Bishop's Castle Field, in St. Mary's parish west of the Hythe; whether there was indeed any kind of fortification there is unknown, but this was one of the properties the Bishop specifically excluded from his grant of 1403.
Where we find other towns struggling with the costs of wall building and maintenance, Maldon's preoccupation was with the bridges across the Chelmer and Blackwater connecting the town and Heybridge, which were susceptible to damage from tidal flooding. In 1388 the king granted, to assist with the costs of bridge repair, that for three years the town not be required to send representatives to parliament a potential savings in wages of 2s. per day per person and that it be allowed to collect a special toll (pontage). The following election day, the townsmen appointed a committee of 14 of their leading members to oversee the project. The parliamentary exemption was renewed in 1392 for seven more years and repeated in 1407 for an equal period; in fact, however, we know that the town sent representatives to most parliaments within those periods it was not in the best interest of the town to dissociate itself with an institution making decisions that could affect borough economies but at least they had the option.
Repair and maintenance of the marketplace, causeways, and Moothall, as well as other properties acquired by the borough, were likewise items of expenditure in the budget.